16 February 2011

The BMW 'Restoration'

As bought - not much damage visible !
Restoration is probably too strong a word but there's plenty of work to do as I'm finding out as I work my way through the car.

When I bought it, Cindy, the seller told me of the obvious faults: the disintegrating front brakes, the bashes on both front wings and the non-opening boot. She also said that there was a leak into the cabin but as all convertibles leak, some from birth, that wasn't unusual.

When I got it home I started to strip the brakes but didn't get far when I discovered the bolts holding the brake caliper were seized. I WD40'd them and after a few hours including a bit of heat from my blowtorch and they were loose. The other side was relatively easy. It's the same with all cars - the first side takes ages and the second side just seems to fall off!

Having stupidly bought the brake disks and pads from the local motoring supermarket, I then found them on the internet for a quarter of the price. Luckily, I'd priced the calipers at the BMW franchise at €258 each, I was therefore delighted when I found them on the internet for €55 each! 

The non-opening boot was more of a challenge. The trick was to press the panel which raises to allow you to store the folding roof and, once closed, this allowed the boot to open. The design is to prevent the boot lid and the roof cover from jamming together and causing damage. It took about an hour for me to spot a micro-switch which only activates when the roof stowing panel is firmly closed and a quick adjustment of the panel and the micro-switch clicked and hey-presto, the boot could open.

The roof panel however only closes when all the electrics are working and after discovering about two dozen relay switches, none of which I could test, I decided that a couple of latches would do the trick - result! Cost - €7.50.

Next on the list was the manual boot opening mechanism which is used when all the electrics fail. This consists of a particularly flimsy lever under the back seat which when pulled, releases the lock in the boot. Not unusually after 15 years, some of the cables had frayed and needed to be replaced so it was off to the DIY store to get 6 metres of wire cable. An hour later and the cables were replaced. Result! Cost of cable €5.40.

Bumper work - typical Cote d'Azur damage 
The bash on the passenger side front wing was easily fixed. A foot pushed against the outward-facing dent and it 'folded' back into place. There is still a crease in the panel but it's almost invisible compared to what it was like before.

However, the major surprise when I opened the car after two days of rain was the complete flooding of the roof storage bay, the boot and the space under the back seat. The pools of water were so deep you could have kept goldfish in them! Although Cindy had told me there was a leak, the amount of water was a shock. First to get inspected was the roof storage bay. It was quite obvious and very strange that water could flow into the bay - there were no seals or mouldings to divert rain. After 30 minutes of complete bafflement, I spotted a couple of  rubber plugs in the base of each side of the bay and when poked with a long screwdriver, the water flowed out under the car. It's quite obvious that the 3-series design allows water to flood into the storage bay but then drains out through these plugs - success !

Following this rather simple 'fix', and after a few more days of rain, the BMW is now quite dry. Result.

Fixing the bumpers - brakes being stripped
The front bumper has been filled and resprayed and is looking good. Unfortunately, the rather large bash in the driver's side front wing will necessitate a replacement - a summer job I think.

Unfortunately, my brake parts which are coming from the UK have been delayed by of all things, a dodgy computer system although the cynic in me thinks the company wanted to have the credit card cash in their account before they released the calipers however, they should be here by the time J and I get back from Florence this weekend.

In summary then, apart from rebuilding the brakes, all that remains to be done is to have the car MOT'd and then registered and then I'll be roaring round the Tourrettes lanes. 

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